Because all people are made in the image of God, all people have an innate hunger and desire for God, for the transcendent, for meaning, for the real. And because we are made in the image of the Triune God, we instinctively know that somehow this pursuit is a shared pursuit, and this knowledge is found in some kind of fellowship, in conversation, in community. Different transcendentals may be attractive to different people, different cultures, different stages in life, but the ancient values of truth, goodness, and beauty still seem to capture so much of what humans long for — parts of the personality of God all men desire.
This is the search for coherence, for rationality. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Luke wrote his gospel so that his audience might know with certainty those things that were testified by eye witnesses, and John likewise structured his gospel around “signs” so that those who had not seen might believe in Jesus and have life in His name (Jn. 20:30-31). John reiterates the same idea in his epistle, referencing what has been seen and heard and touched by witnesses that others might know the truth about the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:1-4). The Bible assumes that people are rational creatures seeking evidence and testimony to arrive at truth. Christianity is not mysticism where some people randomly receive “faith zaps.” The apostle says that all Christians should “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (1 Pet. 3:15). This assumes that you have asked hard questions and not afraid to ask them again. Truth, for fallible, finite creatures, always goes back to authorities: says who? But even more fundamentally, the claim that truth exists rests upon a presupposition that there is such a thing as language, as rationality, as reason, as logic, as claims. And where does that come from?
This is the search for value, for quality of life, for justice, for morality. Think back to the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Goodness implies judgment and evaluation. If truth is the ground upon which we identify different things, goodness is the lens through which we begin to evaluate them. Adam was given an original goodness by which he was expected to evaluate the serpent’s rival claim. Goodness also seems to be very closely related to kindness and mercy. Goodness is God’s blessing or favor: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Ps. 23:6). “The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting” (Ps. 100:5). What is good? He has shown you man: “But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8). “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps. 85:10). If truth is the ground, goodness is what grows. And conversely, evil is what grows out of the ground of lies and deceit. Telling the truth about God and man means coming to realization that God is good and that we are not. But God is rich in goodness, and it’s His goodness that leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Christians are to be people who are concerned with the common good, but this is not a watered-down vanilla goodness. Jesus is the goodness of God revealed to draw all men to Himself.
Even though we are invited to taste and see that the Lord is good, beauty seems to have to do with delight and joy in good and true things. Beauty is often primarily associated with eyes, with appearance, attraction. Even in Hebrew, the idiom “good looking” is used to describe a beautiful person (Gen. 24:16, Est. 2:7). Beauty is closely related to splendor and glory (Ex. 28:2, Ps. 96:6, Prov. 4:9). But beauty seems to incite joy: “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory… but rejoice to the extend that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 1:8, 4:13). “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 24-25). Beauty is the search for pleasure, fulfillment, happiness, delight, satisfaction. In the Psalms, word “blessed” is frequently the word “happy” (e.g. Ps. 1, 2, 32, etc.). At God’s right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). The Bible also refers to music as a kind of glory and beauty, and Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who having found one such pearl, sells everything he owns in order to buy it (Mt. 13:45).
Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8). I take it then that evangelism is essentially obeying this command. We are first and foremost seekers, treasure hunters, looking for truth and justice and beauty and virtue and goodness, and because we believe that these things really exist and that they are good and excellent and wonderful, we cannot help but want to share them. Fundamentally, to be a Christian is to have begun to experience truth, goodness, and beauty in Jesus Christ, the revelation of the eternal God in whom is the fullness of life that all people were made for.